Thursday, October 29, 2009

U.S. list of hate crimes expands

U.S. list of hate crimes expands


By Margaret Talev

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, a milestone that activists compared to the passage of 1960s civil rights legislation empowering blacks.
The new law adds acts of violence committed against people because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to the list of federal hate crimes.
Gay rights activists voiced hope that the Obama administration would advance more issues, including legislation to bar workplace discrimination, allow military service and recognize same-sex marriages.

Jump to the rest of the Bee article here

The sisters of a black man slain in Texas and the mother of a gay man killed in Wyoming appear with President Obama at the bill signing.

Fred Karger sent a message to the members of Californians Against Hate.

Subject: Judge: State Can Press for Disclosure of Donors -- Amazing NEWS!!!

The attorney general now challenges the Yes on 1 group to open its records.

Portland Press Hearld


October 29, 2009

PORTLAND — The state can compel the National Organization for Marriage to disclose the identities of donors who contributed to its effort to repeal Maine's gay-marriage law, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge D. Brock Hornby ruled that Maine's reporting requirements for ballot question campaigns do not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as claimed in a lawsuit filed last week by the National Organization for Marriage.

Bolstered by the ruling, Maine's attorney general challenged the advocacy group Wednesday night to make its records public before next week's vote on Question 1.

"We are not going to give them legal advice. We trust that their legal counsel will advise them to comply fully," said Attorney General Janet Mills. "The court has ruled that it is in the public interest to do so, and the law couldn't be clearer.

"I would hope that they would file before the election," Mills said. "Why not? What is there to hide?"

The National Organization for Marriage, a Virginia-based nonprofit corporation, has contributed about $1.6 million to the political action committee Stand for Marriage Maine, which is leading the fight to repeal the same-sex marriage law. That's more than half the total raised for the campaign so far.

On Oct. 1, the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 3-2 to investigate the fundraising practices of the National Organization for Marriage. One concern is whether the group has violated state law by not registering as a "ballot question committee" and by withholding its contribution records.

State law requires any individual or group that raises or spends more than $5,000 to influence a ballot question vote to disclose contributors who gave more than $100 for that purpose.

Last week, the National Organization for Marriage sued the ethics commission and several state officials in federal court, arguing that Maine's ballot question law is unconstitutional and that individual donors have the right to anonymity in referendum campaigns.

The group asked for a temporary restraining order that would have let it operate outside of the state's reporting requirements while the lawsuit was pending.

Judge Hornby heard arguments on Monday from Josiah Neeley on behalf of the National Organization for Marriage; Assistant Attorneys General Phyllis Gardiner and Thomas Knowlton represented the state.

While a final resolution of the lawsuit is at least several months away, Hornby's order on Wednesday denied the request for a temporary restraining order, and said the National Organization for Marriage is not likely to succeed on any of its claims.

Hornby said Maine's ballot question law approaches, but does not cross, the line between essential transparency and protection of an individual's free speech.

"Maine is entitled to conclude that its electorate needs to know, on an ongoing basis, the source of financial support for those who are taking positions on a ballot initiative," Hornby wrote in his 32-page ruling.

"I conclude that the state's interest to provide this information to voters is 'not only compelling but critical' to the proper functioning of the system of direct democracy," Hornby wrote, quoting from a similar case in California in which the National Organization for Marriage is a plaintiff.

It is unclear what the organization's response will be to Hornby's ruling.

Two lawyers representing the group in the Maine case did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday.

Brian Brown, the organization's executive director, also could not be reached.

Maine's ethics commission is scheduled to take up the issue on Nov. 19. Members are expected to discuss the scope of the investigation.

Regardless of the investigation, Mills said, Hornby's ruling should send a clear message to the National Organization for Marriage and other national advocacy groups that have an interest in Maine ballot questions.

"This is an excellent day for the Maine citizenry," Mills said. "This decision stands for the proposition that the people have a right to know who is behind either side of any issue that is on the ballot."

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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Keeping The Faith - Sacramento

another quote of the day

“This legislation begins a new era in hate crimes protection and prevention. Its sends a clear message to all that we will not tolerate hate crimes against any American”

- Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP

From Rachel Maddow Show

President Obama Signs Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill Into Law